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September 20, 2006

Bloody but Unbowed: Canadians in Afghanistan


From the editorial board of
The Globe and Mail

by Neil Kitson

Canadian troops are not in Iraq, although this newspaper has consistently advocated sending them there. As we said at the time of the Coalition intervention in 2003, "much good should flow from it." Subsequent events have proved our position to be entirely wrong. It is now clear that Iraq is in a much more desperate situation than before the invasion, that there were no "weapons of mass destruction," and that the invasion was illegal and without justification. We at the Globe are therefore satisfied, like Col. Cathcart, that our genius for ineptitude has not been blunted.

It is in this light that we wholeheartedly support the Canadian involvement in the Afghan catastrophe. We report that our troops are being killed and injured at quite respectable rates, enough perhaps to get us some credibility in Washington. It is indeed regrettable that some of these casualties have been from American bombing and strafing, but this is still honorable: war is a tough business.

Afghanistan was known to be impoverished and littered with land mines after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, but of little interest until 9/11, The Cataclysm That Changed the World Forever. Then, when it became clear that the 9/11 hijackers were almost all from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan had to be dealt with promptly and aggressively.

Since the subsequent, successful Afghan intervention in 2001, which even the previous lily-livered Liberal government was able to support, there has been marked improvement and benefit. Afghanistan has a democratically elected government, which is pretty influential out to Kabul's city limits, and opium production is up. Land mines are admittedly still a problem, and as reported by the Guardian (a gutless left-wing newspaper that probably supported Stalin, although Churchill supported Stalin, which is a bit of a problem for us, but nothing we can't work out), the current situation in Afghanistan is "close to anarchy with feuding foreign agencies and unethical private security companies compounding problems caused by local corruption." This "stark warning came from Lieutenant General David Richards, head of NATO's international security force in Afghanistan, who warned that Western forces there were short of equipment and were 'running out of time' if they were going to meet the expectations of the Afghan people."

Luckily, however, Operation Medusa has been a success (although there are a few flaky doubters who lower morale but can be easily ignored), and our Canadian troops will now be bravely engaged, with our UN-sanctioned NATO allies, in destroying the opium crop, and with it a major source of income for impoverished rural Afghans (the drought is taking care of the rest). We applaud this resolution. We are not deterred by the fact that European troops (and their colonial descendants) who have little knowledge of the local language, culture, or customs are once again trying to impose their objectives on a population that resents their presence. Neither are we discouraged by the lack of funding or planning for a realistic economic recovery. On the contrary, we on the Globe editorial board are determined to persevere to our objective: a democratic, stable, peaceful Afghanistan, sympathetic to the West, prosperous, and resistant to the mad mullahs in Iran and Pakistan, even though we have no idea how any of this can be accomplished. We support the Harper government's determination to see Canada's Afghan involvement through to its inevitable and disastrous conclusion.

 

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Neil Kitson is a dermatologist and garment manufacturer based in Vancouver in his Vancouver-based house with his Vancouver-based rabbit (Fred). He (Neil, not Fred) has watched in growing disbelief as his own country, normally a hotbed of common sense, has been sucked into a folie à deux with the delusional United States of America, formerly a republic under a Constitution.

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